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New laws clear way for more powered boats on Canberra’s lakes

By Ian Bushnell - 6 November 2017 6

Canberra’s lakes will become more accessible to the public, with lax laws and penalties applied when appropriate. Photo: Jack Mohr.

New laws will encourage greater recreational and commercial use of Canberra’s lakes by operators of powered boats but also introduce new penalties for threats to public safety such as being affected by alcohol or drugs.

Legislation introduced to the Legislative Assembly last week will allow electric powered boats to operate on Canberra’s lakes without a permit if they travel at less than 10 knots, in line with New South Wales.

It will also mean commercial operators will only need to obtain one approval to use Lake Burley Griffin, Kingston Harbour and Molonglo Reach instead of having to apply to the ACT Government and the National Capital Authority, with new cross-jurisdictional arrangements.

There will also be fines of up to $7,500 and/or up to one year in prison for anybody committing offences which pose a risk to public safety such as drug and alcohol offences on the lakes.

The new drug and alcohol laws will be consistent with road transport legislation and enforceable by the ACT Water Police.

Rules relating to navigation, signals, lighting, towing and loading for boats will also be modernised, consistent with those in surrounding NSW waters and other jurisdictions.

The Lakes Act has not been reviewed since 1976 and Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said a more streamlined licensing and approval regime would reduce red tape for the increasing number of people wanting to enjoy Canberra’s lakes.

He said the bill would also ensure that Canberra’s waterways remained safe places for all Canberrans to enjoy.

“Our lakes are becoming increasingly popular for recreational activity, and we want to encourage Canberrans to use these beautiful lakes whilst also supporting the safe recreational use of our waterways, including Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Molonglo Reach and Kingston Harbour,” he said.

Looking forward to enjoying Canberra’s lakes after the new legislation is passed? What other issues do you encounter when you visit our lakes that you feel the Government should be paying attention to? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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6 Responses to
New laws clear way for more powered boats on Canberra’s lakes
watto23 9:10 pm 07 Nov 17

Lucy Baker said :

There will be noise. There will be hoons. Speedsters won’t face any consequences. The atmospherics around Lake Burley Griffin will be wrecked. Just picture walking along Anzac Parade and hearing a power boat with a cast of The Bachelor wannabe types on board. Or doing the Bridges Walk with powerboat noise everywhere. This is a really bad decision.

I don’t think you read the article. There is a speed limit, electric motors are mostly silent and boats will need to be registered to be used on the lake. Sure someone may break the rules, but why deny others the use of the lake. LBG needs to be used more and not just sit their and look pretty for people who want to look at it only. I’m a kayaker who uses the lake and I don’t think there will be any problems at all, despite the fact I might no longer be the only person on Springbank island.

Me2 4:29 pm 07 Nov 17

Lucy Baker said :

There will be noise. There will be hoons. Speedsters won’t face any consequences. The atmospherics around Lake Burley Griffin will be wrecked. Just picture walking along Anzac Parade and hearing a power boat with a cast of The Bachelor wannabe types on board. Or doing the Bridges Walk with powerboat noise everywhere. This is a really bad decision.

Putting aside the fact that this is for electric motors which, as pointed out by others, are virtually silent, how would the noise from the water be any different to the noise of the traffic on the roads/bridges you mention?

No_Nose 10:04 pm 06 Nov 17

Lucy Baker said :

There will be noise. There will be hoons. Speedsters won’t face any consequences. The atmospherics around Lake Burley Griffin will be wrecked. Just picture walking along Anzac Parade and hearing a power boat with a cast of The Bachelor wannabe types on board. Or doing the Bridges Walk with powerboat noise everywhere. This is a really bad decision.

Did you not read that this is restricted to electric motors? They are basically silent. And as for ‘hooning’, even the most expensive electric outboards struggle to get equivalency with a 15hp fuel motor. They are certainly nothing that can reach any speed, or be powerful enough to drive a vessel that carries more than three or four people.

Darrel Kolsky 9:12 pm 06 Nov 17

Lucy Baker they are talking about electric motors only which are virtually silent, you would be lucky to hear them from the edge of the lake let alone Anzac Parade or the Bridges. Take a walk around the lake and see if you can hear any noise from the new goboats as they move around the lake.

Southerly_views 4:45 pm 06 Nov 17

These changes have been a long time coming and are well overdue. Canberra’s lakes are wonderful recreational assets that for too long have been swaddled in restrictive and protective legislation that allowed only unpowered watercraft and a handful powered organisational, research or maintenance boats with official permits to ply their waters.

I remember the heyday of Lake Burley Griffin in the 1970’s with large numbers of sailing boats in Friday and weekend races along with the friendly helping hand of the water police fleet. Since then usage of the lake has literally “stagnated” with the number of boats on the water in decline. The lake is large enough to easily accommodate a mix of competition rowing, sailing and electric powered boats as long as everyone obeys the basic rules of the water.

Electric boats open up the lake’s waterways and the few islands to people of all ages for fishing, cruising and picnicking, both on-water and around the shoreline. The launching ramps would be revitalised and the water police would be needed all the more once again. I also suspect that propellers stirring the water up a bit might even disturb the growth of the algae that has plagued the lake for years.

Let’s bring back a wide range of recreational boating in Canberra for the kids, grownups, the families as well as the older generation – each boating their own particular style. Australia Day celebrations might even see boats anchored around the lake at a safe distance watching the fireworks and creating a colourful flotilla of Canberra’s newest boat owning fraternity.

Lucy Baker 2:03 pm 06 Nov 17

There will be noise. There will be hoons. Speedsters won’t face any consequences. The atmospherics around Lake Burley Griffin will be wrecked. Just picture walking along Anzac Parade and hearing a power boat with a cast of The Bachelor wannabe types on board. Or doing the Bridges Walk with powerboat noise everywhere. This is a really bad decision.

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